Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Government discrimination against smokers?

The county government in Marion County, Florida (which includes Ocala, for the geographically challenged) will no longer hire people who use tobacco in any form. Potential employees must sign an affidavit swearing they have not used tobacco products within a year prior to employment. The rule applies to all departments under county government but does not apply to current employees of the county government or current/future employees of the county's constitutional offices (such as the Sheriff's office, tax collector's office, etc).

The powers that be say this is being done to cut health insurance costs. Ok fine, I can go along with that but I'd actually like to see the data. Are health insurance premiums for companies and government agencies actually reduced if the employees do not smoke?

What about people who drink? Smoking is becoming less frequent these days but people still drink. And drinking can cause problems just like tobacco. Are we

When will it end?

And what IF a person applies for employment in the Marion County government and elects not to choose the county health insurance program because perhaps their spouse has a better insurance with their job or for some other reason. Are they still not able to be hired? I mean after all if they're not insured through the county there's no risk right? If this reason for not hiring tobacco users is solely because of health insurance, then that person shouldn't be excluded from hiring if they are qualified.

Personally I think that a private company should be able to hire whomever they want just as I think landlords should be able to rent to whomever they want and so on and so on. However the government, which provides services to all of us, and to whom we all pay taxes to, should not be in the business of discriminating against individuals because of personal habits.

However.....there is the insurance issue....so I am wondering, is this ok?

Comments? Anyone?


  1. Nope. No one ever backs up these claims with numbers. I don't think they exist. It's just the holier than thou reasoning of those wanting to impose their own behavior on others, Jess. Remember when Rush used to talk about the politically correct crowd that one day would become the fast food police? Everyone laughed at him and look what happened. As soon as the smoking bans began a few years back, suddenly every other personal habit was on the table, too.

    Wanted to wish you a Happy New Year, Jessica. All the best.

  2. It's not going to make them better workers. Thats what people should look at when hireing. Will this person work can they do the job required. Not this other bull.

  3. I don't know about health insurance premiums, but there has been data around for years that smokers use more sick leave than other employees. Still, this opens up a lot of questions about privacy and government regulation, etc. Wow.

  4. Someone once told me (I can't remember who or when) that they heard smokers tended to take longer and more frequent breaks than others. Now personally I don't give a damn if someone takes a smoke break so long as when I want to stretch my legs I can!

    I'm one that says if someone can do the job right that's all that matters however---there are also issues of second-hand smoke smell making coworkers sick. I've had that happen to me where someone I work with will smoke and come into the office, it bothers me. I don't mind that they smoke but the smell makes me nauseous.

    But that's neither here nor there. The excuse Marion Co. uses is health insurance so we have to go with that. I wonder if I can snag a commenter who has done statistics for the health care industry.

    Happy New Year to you too karen!!!

  5. Anonymous1/02/2008

    I think it is an outrageous intrusion into the personal lives of their empolyees.

    If they were to say, we aren't hiring homosexuals, adulterers or people who have sex outside of marriage because they are at a higher risk of contracting aids and that affects our insurance and sick days there would be a public outrage. The reason they can get away with this is because it is politically correct garbage.--ST